TENDING TO THINGS WITH LIFE: A dose of literature to get you through Monday (series 6)

When I failed to get an appointment at Mulago hospital, I decided to withdraw the only 30,000 shillings on my savings account so I could consult a gynecologist at a private clinic in Wandegeya. The High Virginal Swap showed that I had no infection at all. The Doctor said the discharge was normal and the pain during sex was probably because my partner “engages when I am not ready”.

After all the fuss I had made about my first gynecologist visit, after the early rising to make it to Mulago before the lines got long and after spending my savings; my lady parts were declared fine. What a waste! An infection would have vindicated my efforts.


After the gynecological disappointment, I call up Kaine to check if she is free this evening. She stays in Kyaliwajjala and I will be spending the night at her place. My apartment is lonely and I am so broke and sober that there is no way I can sanely get through the night by myself.

I met Kaine at a musical festival in Entebbe five years ago. Almost everyone was on the upper side of Botanical Gardens clapping or dancing as they watched a troupe of dancers from the North performing the Larakaraka dance. The wind blowing across Lake Victoria through the tall trees was chilling. I had a warm jacket in my bag, back at the tents. The camping site was on the lower end closer to the lake. Between the tents and the stage was 100 metres of darkness and over grown grass that buried your entire foot and ankle.

On the way back to the crowds, I noticed a lone figure in the dark, holding up the hem of her long skirt to her knees with both hands like she had something trapped inside the loop of clothe created by her posture.

“Hello”, I said passively intending to shamble on past her.

“Hey”, her tone was heightened with excitement.

“The fireflies are crazy tonight. They are everywhere”, she added pointing out to the grass.

I looked around us. It looked like God had poured glitter from of heaven and the grass was drenched in it. Turns out Kaine had trapped a firefly in the fold of her skirt.

Come check it out.

I came closer to her. I could not make out her face yet but she asked me to burry mine in the loop of her skirt so I could see the firefly without it escaping. Fireflies give off an awful scent when they are that close but it was a beautiful moment just to see the white-greenish light flicker. It felt like Kaine had brought down the sky so I could watch a star up close.

Kaine, a radiant black beauty with sinful dimples. Over the years I have made out that her eyebows are thick and her eyes are shaped like small rugby balls only with more pointed ends; eyes filled with dreams. Just like her beautiful brain. Kaine is a Mukiga from the Hills of Kabale and her nose imitates the steepness of her village hills. Two fiercely dark beauty spots stand out against her dark skin, right below the royal nose and to the right of her pale ruby lips.

We are seated in a taxi headed to her home. Kaine has taken off her Tommys and I know the pungent smell that comes with this but she does not care. It is dark outside. Kaine is awfully quiet. She hates using taxis. She is often paranoid and self conscious in taxis so to block all of us out, she stuffs her ears with earphones and listens to music.

The driver is reckless; swerving in the road, driving on shoulders whenever he finds jam, over speeding along that scary two way highway from Spear Motors, past Kyambogo and all the way to Banda. His driving stiffens my joints with fear. We get off the jinja highway and branch off before Kireka to use the Kamuli road shortcut. Namugongo taxis always use this route but you don’t want them to, especially with a driver like this one.

The man hits pots holes like he cannot see them, he curves corners blindly as though this were a straight, wide one-way traffic road. I wonder why no one in the taxi is complaining. To my left, a man in a blue and white checked shirt keeps staring at my bosom, trying to catch a glimpse of my cleavage I suppose. He pretends to be looking out the window and I feign ignorance about his true motive. I am too exhausted to be bothered by his staring. I could wear the grey suit jacket over my green blouse to block his view but it is hot and stuffy in the taxi.

We swerve again and I gasp. Kaine takes the earphones out of her ears. “Conductor! Tell your driver to take us well. He is driving badly”. The air in the 14 sitter Van is stagnant with sweaty, tired passengers, occasional muffled gasps whenever we hit a pothole and unspoken prayers to reach home safely. Kaine’s voice sails firm and loud through the air.

The Conductor does not communicate Kaine’s concern immediately. Then in a careful and accusatory tone, he informs the driver that the passengers are not happy with the way he is driving.

In a second, the taxi is parked, engine off in the middle of the road. Remember, it is a shortcut off the main road so traffic is minimal here.

‘Who has said I am driving badly?’The driver barks from the front seat.

Silence from the seats behind his.

‘Was it a man?’

He speaks with the snare that echoes, “ it had better be a man” very aware that it wasn’t because what cooled his crazy driving to a halt, was a female voice.

There is immediate uproar from the seats behind his. The other passengers speak out in chorus. They are angry and their combined anxiety and fear since the start of the journey has made their tongues bitter. Jeers and cautions from a woman there, a man here telling the driver that it does not matter which sex or age the passenger is; he should dive carefully. In response the driver accuses the women of being cantankerous and authoritarian yet they don’t even know how to drive. To those requesting him to start driving and get them home, he has this to say,

‘ohhh, I thought you were all good drivers. Why don’t you come and drive the taxi yourselves.’

This whole time, Kaine says nothing. Her earphones are already back in her ears. The driver starts the car and begins to drive really slowly.

He is annoyingly slow some of the passengers start to say ‘drive faster’!

Copyright © 2016-2017 by Daphine Arinda

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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